Bullard Fights for its Playoff Life at Home Friday Against Gilmer
Gilmer Buckeyes (7-1, 4-0)
Bullard Panthers (6-2, 2-2)
7:30 p.m. Friday
Panther Stadium, Bullard
Gilmer: Jeff Traylor
Bullard: Shannon Wilson
Gilmer: def. Spring Hill, 59-10
Bullard: lost to Henderson, 24-14
Gilmer: vs. Kilgore
Bullard: at Spring Hill
- QB Tanner Barr, Jr., 6-1, 175 (127 of 213, 1,523 yards, 13 TDs, 8 INTs; 66 carries, 321 yards, 1 TD)
- RB/OLB Josh Walker, Sr., 6-1, 220 (37 carries, 262 yards, 6 TDs; 11 catches, 136 yards, 2 TDs; 55 tackles, 4 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, 1 recovery; committed to Texas A&M)
- ATH Chase Tate, Soph., 5-5, 150 (23 carries, 170 yards, 1 TD; 35 catches, 285 yards, 2 TDs)
- RB Kris Boyd, Soph., 5-9, 180 (74 carries, 723 yards, 12 TDs)
- DT Xavier Fluellen, Sr., 6-1, 260 (50 tackles, 3 sacks, 4 forced fumbles, 2 recoveries)
- WR/CB Trey Washington, Sr., 6-1, 170 (24 catches, 262 yards, 2 TDs; 23 tackles, 1 INT; committed to SMU)
- LB Brandon Barnes, Sr. (65 tackles, 1 fumble recovery)
- DB Justus Cheatham, Sr. (21 tackles, 4 INTs, 1 fumble recovery)
- OL Brady English, Sr., 6-4, 255
- QB Colton Mebane, Sr., 5-10, 180 (77 of 140, 1,311 yards, 12 TDs, 3 INTs; 85 carries, 440 yards, 1 TD)
- RB Brentavian Henderson, Sr., 5-10, 170 (78 carries, 615 yards, 12 TDs)
- WR Haden Bryant, Sr., 5-10, 170 (32 catches, 726 yards, 9 TDs)
- WR/LB Zack Holladay, Sr., 5-10, 185 (10 catches, 170 yards, 3 TDs; 13 tackles last week vs. Henderson)
- LB Brooks Conlee (15 tackles last week vs. Henderson)
- RB Houston Alexander, Sr., 5-9, 170 (62 carries, 250 yards, 4 TDs)
- WR Sal Guillano (17 catches, 234 yards, 1 TD
- RB/LB J.P. Hendrix (2 rush TDs; 8 tackles last week vs. Henderson)
Just the facts
- Gilmer averages 34.8 points per game and yields 22.9.
- Bullard averages 35.0 points per game and allows 13.8.
- Gilmer has won six consecutive games.
- Neither of Bullard's two losses came by more than 13 points.
- Gilmer has beaten its last six opponents by an average of 18.5 points, but take away last week's 49-point win at Spring Hill, the average margin in the previous five games drops to 9.8.
- Bullard has ensured itself of its first back-to-back winning seasons since the Panthers finished above .500 every year from 1990-93.
- Sophomores and juniors account for 1,755 of Gilmer's 1,771 rushing yards and 948 of the Buckeyes' 1,523 receiving yards.
Key matchup: Gilmer's running game vs. Bullard's defensive front. Gilmer may run the spread and have the reputation for throwing the ball around the yard, but the Buckeyes' bread and butter this season and last season has been running the football. Sophomore Kris Boyd has emerged as a go-to back for the Buckeyes when they need him to be, but Gilmer also displays solid balance, spreading the carries around to other talented players such as bruising junior Josh Walker and lightning quick sophomore Chase Tate. Don't forget about quarterback Tanner Barr, either. He's proven he's capable of hurting teams with his legs, averaging about five yards per carry and sitting second on the team in carries (66) and yards (321). Bullard will need big performances from its linebackers, such as Zack Holladay, J.P. Hendrix, and Brooks Conlee. That unit will be responsible for fitting the running lanes Gilmer hopes to produce and exploit.
Don't be surprised if: You see a lot of fight from Bullard in this one. The Panthers' 24-14 loss at Henderson a week ago put the Lions in firm control of their playoff destiny in the race for the third and final postseason spot from District 16-3A. Bullard must win its final two games to have a chance at a playoff spot and get help* from the rest of the district to secure that berth (that would involve Gilmer losing vs. Bullard and next week, plus Henderson beating Kilgore; there's also a scenario involving three two-loss teams that would bring the second and third playoff berths to a points tie-breaker). In other words, Bullard is fighting for its playoff life in this one. On the other sideline is a Gilmer team hoping to remain undefeated in 16-3A. If the Buckeyes and Kilgore beat Bullard and Henderson, respectively, Friday night, that sets up a titanic 16-3A championship game matchup at Buckeye Stadium next week between Gilmer and the 'Dogs, a game that ETSN.fm forecasted in the preseason as the No. 1 regular-season game in East Texas this season. Gilmer and Bullard are highly motivated to win this game, and that should make for an exciting night for the fans.
* -- special thanks to reader Darren Davis for helping with Bullard playoff scenarios